Over the course of my career in the radio and media business, I have lived in several places across the country.  Each of these places was VASTLY different from the others.  The one thing that remained constant is how much history there was in each area.

One of the things that has always fascinated me about Central Maine was how the Kennebec River had, for hundreds of years, been used as a major transportation system.  Basically, the Kennebec River is the OG I-95.

After seeing some pictures of passenger and cargo boats docked in Augusta and Hallowell, I started doing some digging about how regular these trips had been.

According to posts on the Maine Memory Network and Wikipedia, the Eastern Steamship Company made regular trips from the late 1800s through the first part of the 1900s.  So called "night steamers" were the red eye flights of the early 1900s.  In the evening, you'd hop aboard a steamship in Boston and you'd wake up nearing Central Maine.

For several decades, these board made regular trips all up and down the New England coast and into the Maine river network.

As the Kennebec River becomes more and more shallow the farther up the river you go, especially in the summer months, the big "Boston steamers" stopped in Gardiner.  Smaller river steamers would make runs to Hallowell and Augusta to pick up and drop off cargo and passengers.

Hubbard Free Library via Maine Memory Network
Hubbard Free Library via Maine Memory Network

The Eastern Steamship Company, in several different forms, operated until 1955.  While we've been talking about the routes that the line had running through Central Maine and Mid-Coast Maine, the company had routes that ran as far north as Saint John, New Brunswick and as far south as Norfolk, Virginia in the US.  They even had a route that made trips to Nassau in the Bahamas.

The line's connection to Maine was quite obvious from the names they bestowed on many of their ships.  The City of Augusta, the Yarmouth, the Belfast, and the Camden, to name a few.

While we don't see the kind of passenger and cruise line traffic on our rivers that we once did, those days are not completely dead.  Bangor still sees the occasional small cruise ship, larger ships regularly frequent ports like Bar Harbor, and sight-seeing cruises (like Cap'N'Fish's) still make cruises up the Kennebec River.

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